APhA tackles issues from drug abuse to R.Ph. rights

April 16, 2007

APhA addrssed many issues including drug abuse, disposing of medications, and expansion of the pharmacist's role.

To begin with, APhA announced in a press conference that it's teaming up with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to fight drug abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications. According to ONDCP officials, legitimate drugs have grown to become the second-leading cause of drug abuse, following marijuana. "This has become a significant problem," Jennifer de Vallance, ONDCP spokeswoman, told Drug Topics. "There is a misperception of the harms of prescription drugs. We have also seen that over 60% of prescription drug abusers say they get them for free from friends or family."

Then APhA held another press conference, along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), to unveil new guidelines for disposing of medications. Instead of the old "crush and flush" method of getting rid of unwanted drugs, John Gans, APhA executive VP/CEO, said that until a better and more permanent solution is found, patients should crumble their meds, mix them with coffee grounds or cat litter, seal them in a plastic bag, and then toss them in the trash. These recommendations apply to all drugs except certain controlled substances that the Food & Drug Administration considers too dangerous to be discarded in the trash.

Another big piece of news APhA pitched to members dealt with the renovation and expansion of its headquarters. Appealing for pledges, association officials said they hoped to raise $15 million overall, with $1 million as the target by the end of the meeting. They came close to the mark, raising $766,000 before leaving Atlanta.

As if all these announcements weren't enough to keep the joint jumping, APhA's house of delegates reviewed a meaty plate of issues this year, such as:

In the final house of delegates voting, there was widespread support for a series of resolutions aimed at protecting the personal information of pharmacists and encouraging state boards of pharmacy to remove personal information for pharmacists from their Web sites.

More contentious were resolutions focused on the pharmacist's role in therapeutic decision-making. After a great deal of debate, the delegates passed a resolution aimed primarily at pharmacy settings with imbedded clinics, recommending pharmacists "as primary care providers, alone or in collaboration with other providers." In addition, the delegates approved a resolution calling for the development of safe, effective, and affordable generic versions of biologic drugs and another resolution that opposed redispensing a previously dispensed medication once it is out of the control of a healthcare professional.